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Rolling With My Pancreas: Making My CGM Stick

January 27, 2019

The products I use to keep my CGM secure: Medtronic-issued tape, Smith & Nephew pre IV wipes, and GrifGrips.

My ability to train Brazilian jiu-jitsu effectively over the last year is directly related to my use of the Medtronic 670G with Guardian CGM. (Note: Medtronic really needs some help in naming their products; Additional Note: I’ll be complimenting Medtronic and their products in this post, but I’ve had some issues with them in the past. You can learn what I’m talking about by checking out these past posts.)

When I have a water break, I’m able to consult my pump, which has been getting readings from the CGM that’s in my abdomen or thigh or upper arm. That info will then inform whether I need some sports drink, or water, and keeps me fueled for the next bit of training. It also keeps me conscious and able to learn.

But I found out that training BJJ while wearing a CGM can sometimes be a frustrating–and expensive–proposition.

When I made my return to training after my self-imposed five-year hiatus I was using Medtronic’s prior iteration of their pump/CGM combo, the 530G with Enlite. (Again, Medtronic, I’m available to help with branding.)

In one of my first classes, I was rolling with my training partner, who had his hand on my stomach. My CGM sensor and transmitter were under his hand. “Please be careful with that, I don’t want it to get pulled out,” I started to say, but all I got out was “Please be…” when he grabbed a handful of transmitter and CGM and yanked.

Pulling out the CGM and transmitter.

I was a little pissed, but, over the coming weeks, I also found that sweating would cause them to fall out/off, too, so I can’t just blame my partners for this. (Really, the greatest level of blame goes to my sweaty, sweaty nature.)

Another important fact about CGMs: They are fucking expensive. Like to the tune of about $500 for a box of five (meaning about $100 a pop), and they are constantly on back-order.

So they’re a pretty precious commodity.

It became important for self-preservation to find a way to keep these prized products preserved.

Hence, I’ve been using a variety of tapes and adhesives to keep them in place for as long as possible.

I used just about every type of Band-Aid product I could find, but just thought they were lacking. GrifGrips have been great, but I found the edges tended to come undone and start to roll after a short period of time, so I had to find some adhesives to help.

My search first brought me to use Skin-Tac, a medical adhesive that I found to be the equivalent of industrial glue. (Note: Industrial glue SHOULD NOT be used on human skin.) I started getting serious rashes from the Skin-Tac, so out that stuff went.

Now I use Smith & Nephew skin prep wipes, which have been a godsend.

Here’s my process:

1. Using the Medtronic serter, insert the CGM sensor.

2. Use Smith & Nephew prep wipe and wipe liberally around the sensor, including under the actual area where the sensor’s adhesive will attach to the skin.

3. Wait a couple minutes until the skin becomes tacky.

4. Remove the cover from the sensor adhesive and attach to skin.

5. Attach the Medtronic safety tape, which comes with the CGMs, and remove the cover, attaching to the skin.

6. Attach the CGM transmitter to the sensor, then attach securely using another piece of the CGM safety tape, securing the other end of the sensor/CGM.

7. Using the Smith & Nephew prep wipe, treat a wider area around the sensor and over the Medtronic tape, which is where the GrifGrips will rest.

8. Once the area has become tacky, place the first GrifGrip over the sensor length-wise, so that the point where the sensor is under the skin has the largest about of coverage possible.

9. Take the Smith & Nephew prep wipe again and give the skin and already-placed GrifGrip a good wipe, to ensure the next GrifGrip will rest securely.

10. Attach the second GrifGrip width-wise.

The sensor and transmitter should now be completely secure, and ready to roll. (Literally.)

NOTE: I am not a doctor, so opinions about this stuff are mine and mine alone. If you’re doing something that works, let me know and feel free to share. I’ll be sure to try out and post any other ideas that are shared.

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